In his most explicit repudiation of his Republican rivals to date, President Obama said that the recently passed House Republican budget -- embraced by GOP front-runner Mitt Romney -- would “impose a radical vision of our country.”
“This congressional Republican budget is something different all together,” the president said in remarks to newspaper editors in DC. “It is a Trojan Horse disguised as deficit reduction plans."
He continued, “It is thinly veiled social Darwinism."
Obama said the Ryan budget, which among things proposes turning Medicare into a voucher or premium-support program, is an indication of the far-right direction that Republican Party has taken in Congress and on the campaign trail.
“Instead of moderating their views even slightly, the Republicans running Congress right now have doubled down and proposed a budget so far to the right it makes the Contract with America look like the New Deal,” Obama said, referring to the 1994 Contract of America document Republicans used to take control of Congress that year.
Pivoting to the presidential election, Obama noted Romney’s frequent praise of the Ryan budget and his aspirations to pass a similar plan if he becomes president.
“One of my potential opponents, Gov. Romney, has said that he hoped a similar version of this plan from last year would be introduced as a bill on Day One of his presidency. He said that he's very supportive of this new budget. And he even called it marvelous,” Obama said.
Fixating on Romney’s choice of words, he added that “marvelous” is a word “you don’t often hear when it comes to describing a budget.”
“It’s a word you don’t often hear generally,” he added.
But Obama sounded a warning siren over Ryan’s plan to change Medicare from its current fee-for-service status into a program in which seniors are given a voucher to pay for either the traditional service or a private-insurance option (the voucher would either pay for or offset the cost of the coverage).
“The only reason the government will save any money -- it won’t be on our books -- it’s because we’ve shifted it to seniors. They’ll bear more of the costs themselves,” Obama said.
“It’s a bad idea. And it will ultimately end Medicare as we know it.”
At the end of his speech, Obama answered three questions posed by William Dean Singleton, the chairman of the AP board of directors.
He was asked to explain his statement yesterday that the Supreme Court justices finding the health-care law unconstitutional would be an “unprecedented” event for the court.
“We have not seen a court overturn a law that was passed by Congress on an economic issue like health care that, I think, most people would clearly consider commerce,” Obama said, referring to Congress’s constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce.
While he stayed away from the buzzword he used yesterday to criticize the notion of the law being overturned -- “judicial activism” -- Obama did repeat his statement that he has “enormous confidence” that the law will make it through the Supreme Court.
As a consequence, Obama added, “We're not spending a whole bunch of time planning for contingencies.”
Republicans –- including Romney and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan -- were quick to criticize the president’s criticism of the GOP budget.
"It's a disingenuous, fear-mongered approach, which I understand is going to catch a lot of attention," Romney said on Sean Hannity's radio show. "But if people dig a little deeper, I think they're going to understand that this is President Obama being President Obama, which is finding a way to deflect blame and to mischaracterize the efforts on the part of very thoughtful and serious minded individuals."
And Ryan's office released a statement that said in part: “Like his reckless budgets, today's speech by President Obama is as revealing as it is disappointing: While others lead by offering real solutions, he has chosen to distort the truth and divide Americans in order to distract from his failed record."
House Speaker John Boehner also defended the Ryan plan while excoriating Obama.
“House Republicans, led by Chairman Ryan, passed a responsible budget that would help put Americans back to work, protect our seniors, close President Obama's massive budget deficits, and do 'all of the above' to address high gas prices,” he said in a statement. “Instead of reaching across the aisle to enact the changes needed to restore America's prosperity, the president has resorted to distortions and partisan pot-shots, and recommitted himself to policies that have made our country's debt crisis worse.”
And the Republican National Committee noted that the president’s own budget did not receive one vote in the House (it was brought to the floor in a maneuver by Republicans).
“The president's speech today at the AP Annual Luncheon exhibited the worst of desperate, deceptive politics. It requires a special kind of hypocrisy for Obama to attack Republicans for their responsible Path to Prosperity budget one week after his own tax-and-spend budget was defeated 0-414 in the House of Representatives,” said RNC spokeswoman Kristen Kukowski.